Determination of micropollutants in combined sewer overflows and their removal in a wastewater treatment plant (Seoul, South Korea)

Jaena Ryu, Jeill Oh, Shane A. Snyder, Yeomin Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the occurrence of 29 selected micropollutants such as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in surface waters and wastewaters in Seoul (South Korea) during both dry and wet weather conditions. The study area was selected based on the lack of available information regarding the suspected contamination of rivers/creeks by EDCs and PPCPs in the Seoul region and the presence of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), which serves approximately 4.1 million inhabitants and has a design capacity of 1,297×103 m3/day. Many target compounds (83 %) were detected in samples collected from wastewater treatment influent/effluent, creek water, and combined sewer overflow (CSO). The total EDC/PPCP concentrations were as follows: WWTP influent (69,903 ng/L)>WWTP effluent (50,175 ng/L) >3 creek samples (16,035-44,446 ng/L) during dry weather, and WWTP influent (53,795 ng/L)>WWTP bypass (38,653 ng/L) >5 creek samples (15,260-29,113 ng/L) >2 CSO samples (11,109-11,498 ng/L) during wet weather. EDCs and PPCPs were found to be present at high daily loads (65.1 and 69.8 kg/day during dry and wet weather, respectively) in the WWTP effluent. Compound removal by the WWTP varied significantly by compound: caffeine, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, and propylparaben (>90 %), and acesulfame, DEET, iohexol, iopromide, and iopamidol (<5 %). These findings and literature information support the hypothesis that the efficiency of removal of EDCs and PPCPs is strongly dependent on both removal mechanism (e.g.; biodegradation, adsorption to sludge, and oxidation by chlorine) and compound physicochemical properties (e.g.; pK a and hydrophobicity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3239-3251
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by the Korea Ministry of Environment under Project 414-111-004.


  • Biodegradation
  • Combined sewer overflow
  • Endocrine-disrupting compounds
  • Municipal wastewater treatment
  • Pharmaceuticals and personal care products


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